The Complete Buyer's Guide to Storage Locks

Published on 10/20/2020

Buyer’s Guide: Best Locks to Use for Storage Units

You’re renting a storage unit to keep your treasured items safe.  The goal is security, and your lock is your last line of defense against theft.  While you may be experienced with combination locks and padlocks, we’ll discuss below why they don’t provide the best protection.


Burglars look for the path of least resistance

If it’s harder for a criminal to break into your unit, it’s less likely they’ll attempt the intrusion in the first place. They look for the easiest, quickest locks to break, in order to minimize the chances of being caught.  Standard locks are easily broken by a committed thief, while good storage locks take much more time and effort to bypass.  Good locks are thicker, with a protective casing to stop bolt cutters.


Combination Locks


Combination locks don’t need a key to gain entry. Instead, the user enters a number combination through a dial or presses a code on a pad to unlock the device. It’s popular because it’s easy to use and convenient, but these devices are the least secure for storage units. While fine for areas that you can monitor daily like your garage or storage shed, they’re vulnerable when left unattended for long stretches.

The disadvantages of these locks, however, include forgetting the combination or having others guess the code. A quick search on Google offers a variety of instructional videos with “How to crack your Master Lock combo in 3 easy steps.” Also, they can be easily cut with tools like bolt cutters. (We don’t recommend this option for a storage unit.)




Padlocks are among the most frequently chosen types of storage unit lock. Requiring a key, these are popular because they are affordable and quick to unlock, which is highly desirable for those who don’t want to memorize a combination they’ll only use 6 months later. Though these locks can be quite cheap, we advise that you invest in sturdy padlocks that are durable and secure. With locks, you truly do get what you pay for.  Cheap padlocks are better suited for gym lockers and storage sheds, but long-term storage units need devices that are resistant to bolt cutters.

Padlocks can be made with a variety of materials that will affect the quality. A poor-quality lock can be made with soft metal casings and could be pried open or snipped with bolt cutters. Stainless steel or hard brass padlocks are more resistant to tampering.

There are two main types of padlocks:

·        Open Shackle Lock – These will fit easily into most storage door latches. The shackle (U-shaped portion at the top of the lock) is exposed, making it more susceptible to attacks with bolt cutters or saws.  Unless you get an expensive version, most of these padlocks don’t have an anti-drill plate. (We don’t recommend this for storage units)

·        Closed Shackle Lock – The exposed part of the shackle is shorter, thicker and protected by the padlock casing. These features make these locks more difficult to cut with bolt cutters.

Ordinary padlocks are inexpensive, but not the most secure (especially for a self-storage unit). While you’re probably the only one who has the key to unlock a padlock, they are the easiest kind of lock to tamper with or cut open.


Disc Locks


These lock types were specifically designed for storage units. . You can identify a disc lock because it looks exactly as it sounds: it’s shaped like a disc. A burglar can’t remove these with a bolt cutter because the “U” part of the lock can’t be easily reached. Hammers cannot break open the lock either. For a thief to get through disc locks, they would have to invest quite a bit of time and resources (typically requiring a grinder), which means they will likely move on to a unit with a less secure lock. Both the keyed and combination versions are fine choices in disc locks.

One extra benefit is you need the key both to open and close the lock, meaning you won’t leave your key locked inside the unit!




           Multiple Combination Padlocks

           Cheap and ordinary locks

           Single Combination Padlocks

           Old and overused padlocks

           Padlocks with common keys

           Open-Shackle Padlocks



           Disc Locks

           Closed-Shackle Padlocks